tv Washington Week PBS June 24, 2011 8:00pm-8:30pm PDT
gwen: getting out of afghanistan, the policy and the politics. plus a new face in the republican race. and the supreme court throws out a huge gender discrimination case. tonight on "washington week." >> america, it is time to focus on nation building here at home. gwen: the president lays out his plan to bring 33,000 u.s. troops home from afghanistan by september, 2012. some worry he's moving too fast. >> the president's decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk than i was originally prepared to accept. gwen: some say too slow. >> enough is enough. after 10 years, how long will it take and how long should we be there? gwen: but is this a turning point? the latest announced g.o.p. presidential candidate says no. >> better than 100,000 very
expensive boots on the ground. gwen: what else do we know about jon huntsman? and the high court delivers an historic decision. >> the supreme court has definitely muddied the waters for civil rights class action lawsuits. gwen: but the outcome may be more complicated than it seems. covering the week, market market of -- martha raddatz of abc news. nia-malika henderson of "the washington post," pete williams of nbc news and -- >> covering history as it happens. live from our nation's capital, this is "washington week with gwen ifill." produced in association with national journal. corporate funding for "washington week" is provided by -- >> this rock has never stood still. since 1875, we've been there for our clients through good times and bad.
when their needs changed, we were there to meet them. through the years, from insurance to investment management, from real estate to retirement solutions, we developed new ideas for the financial challenges ahead. this rock has never stood still. and that's one thing that will never change. prudential. corporate funding is also provided by boeing. additional funding is provided by the annenberg foundation, the corporation for public broadcasting and by contributions to pbs stations from viewers like you. thank you. once again, live from washington, moderator gwen ifill. gwen: good evening. nearly 10 years after the 9-11 attacks propelled america into war in afghanistan, president obama declared this week that it is time to leave. but not right away. >> our job is not finished.
ifou looked at the schedule that i set forth, we're only bringing out 10,000 by the end of this year. we're going to bring out all 33,000 that we surged by next summer. but there's still some fighting to be done. gwen: there was not complete agreement on the pace of the pullout or on whether afghan security forces will be fully ready to step up to the plate by 2014 deadline. but the president made the case that the mission at least must change. so how hard will that be, martha? >> well, when i looked back at what the mission is, and the president in 2009, and december, 2009, after a review, added those 30,000, eventually 33,000 troops in there. but he never really talked about counterinsurgency. his generals did. his commanders talked about counterinsurgency. counterinsurgency is when you protect the population, when you look at what jobs and everything else. it's really nation building.
gwen: exactly. >> but the president really didn't talk about that. so i have always sort of looked at this as he's fighting one war, david petraeus was fighting a different kind of war. and what's happened now is the president has basically said we're not really doing that big counterinsurgency anymore. because you can't really have fewer troops and have the same strategy. so i think what they're going more toward is a counterterrorism model. go after targets just like they did with osama bin laden. so the president comes in with that happening in may. and that success, so he can now say, look, we've targeted a lot of al qaeda leaders. we're going to do this a little bit differently. now the white house will say no, no, no, we're not really doing anything differently. but you have to if you have fewer troops. gwen: doyle, so how did -- trace for us how the administration got to this point, the timing seems interesting. >> well, the timing in a sense technically was brought about by the calendar the president set up when he announced this surge back in 2009.
if you remember, back then, he said to general petraeus and general mcchrystal running the war you can have the troops you want, not all the trooms but 30,000, it became -- troops but 30,000, it became 33,000, we'll put a time limit on it, a surge, and we'll start drawing down in july of 2011. in a sense, why now? because this is the calendar he set. the kind of broader piece of that and it connects exactly with what martha was saying, though, is -- and why didn't he give them a waiver from the calendar? they were saying ok, we've had these successes. can we have a few extra months? gwen: not only that, they didn't get all of the troops in there until last september. so they may say this is 18 months. but it isn't really 18 months. >> right. and there was a palpable desire, a yearning on the part of the president and his staff to draw that line, to make sure number one, one of the themes you heard from him in this announcement was promise made,
promise kept. i said we would start to draw down in july 2011. we're starting to draw down. but there was also a fear of getting nibbled to death, of having the generals come in and ask for a little more time and a few more troops and permission to take some of these units from the south and move them to the east. and before you know it, we would have another year or two added to the calendar. so there really was a barely pent-up urge for some time. to make sure that there was a cap put on this thing. and that's really what happened this week. >> in terms of what's there now, how much of a drawdown -- how much will this drawdown make a difference? >> i think it's -- it's a sush stanchion draw -- a substantial drawdown. 33,000 troops out of 100,000 u.s. troops there now. you heard general petraeus and admiral mullen say they dent want the pace to be so -- they didn't want the pace to be so quick which i found quite interesting. i don't remember that from the first time around having the commanders come out and say we disagreed with the president.
it's almost as if the white house is saying, yes, please say you disagree with us. so -- gwen: so the president looks tougher? >> looked tougher. comes in as a commander in chief. you've read about the last time that he felt a little bit put in a box by the commanders. and he was a new commander in chief. he isn't anymore. and he's had success. and he has his national security juice now. and he's using it to do this. so i think the numbers really are the president saying exactly that. you know, let's also remember the civilian -- civilian control of the military. and he is asserting that in a big way. >> i asked that question about -- at the white house several times this week. are you a little uncomfortable with this clear distance between the president and general petraeus, the most famous general in america? they said no, that's fine. that's fine. he's the commander in the field. it's fine with us. that was in a sense choreographed and the white house was perfectly happy as martha said. >> perfectly happy to explain that it was the white house
telling us that. >> looking forward to 2012 what does this mean, the political calculus going into that? we'll see a large number of troops being drawn out in that summer right before -- >> yes, absolutely. gwen: speaking of time. >> speaking of timing. and formally, of course, everyone in the white house saying there were no political considerations involved. well, no one in the white house is unaware that 2012 is out there. what this does is it changes the narrative that barack obama had for this war. absolutely dramatically. and one of the phrases being used at the white house this week was this should be seen by the american people as a pivot point. up until now, we were building up. we were doing more. now the narrative is we're succeeding. we're winning. we've got these very narrow goals as martha said. not big counterinsurgency goals but narrow counterterrorism goals. and we're drawing down the phrase the president used was the tide -- the tide has turned. what was it?
he even said -- gwen: you started it. you're going to have to finish it. >> the tide of war is turning. >> the tide of war is reseeding. -- receding. he even used a phrase about being able to see a light out there. it wasn't at the end of a tunnel. but if you look closely, you could see -- gwen: martha, you have been there many times. you were in afghanistan as recently as a month ago. and you know that getting out isn't just simply packing your duffle bag and leaving. it takes time. it takes a tremendous amount of effort. how long realistically? >> that's a really good point, gwen. because they say they're going to have -- all the surge forces out by the end of september. they're now saying it's probably the end of next september. but realistically, they are going to have to start drawing down all through next year. it's not like you will have those 23,000 additional troops through next year. you have to pack things up. you have to put them in plastic wrap. i remember going to iraq.
and the most amazing logistics i've ever seen. afghanistan is so much harder because of the mountains. you can't go on any roads in and out there. they're impassable. so this will be a phenomenal feat trying to get all the equipment out there for just even the 33,000 troops, let alone trying to draw down steadily after that. they will be spending a lot of time drawing down instead of fighting wars. >> speaking of pivot points, the white house has also talked about the fact that osama bin laden was killed. and that's another reason. did the two really have anything to do with each other? >> yes. in the sense that it made it a lot easier for the president and his aides to say where succeeding. it would have been harder if -- >> politically it makes it easier. but militarily or strategically -- >> they probably would have ened up in the same point. but it also made it easier for what i think -- i think martha agrees, is just as important as the numbers we're talking about.
which is the fact that the mission has now been not radically redefined but it's sort of been made brutally explicit. that this is really just about al qaeda. gwen: it's not about the taliban. but receipt now they are fighting -- but right now they are fighterring the taliban. >> and that is the next step. that's what he talked about a lot in that speech, too. that they're going to try to talk to the taliban even more. i've seen no real hard evidence that any of that is working yet. some of the reentgration they call it from the lower level taliban hasn't gone very far, either. in some of the most volatile areas. gwen: secretary gates on the newshour was very optimistic about it. >> they're staying very optimistic about it. we'll have to wait and see how much -- and part tch was they say if you don't -- part of it was they say if you don't keep the temperature on the taliban they don't need to -- keep the pressure on the taliban they don't need to negotiate. >> and that's certainly a concern from the counterinsurgency folks but there are going to be 68,000
american troops in afghanistan. and hitting the taliban hasn't really been the labor intensive part of this. that's been done by special operations forces. you don't need 100,000 to do that. so the argument from the administration is they can continue hitting the taliban through two full fighting seasons. >> they've made a lot of gains in the south. but look at the south. the south is about 2.5 million people. the east where i spent a lot of time on the border of pakistan, it is the scariest thing here because you don't want people going back and forth across those borders. 30 million people up there. so i think it's a much, much bigger task in the east spread out again. it's not iraq. this is rural. it's a very different kind of fight. gwen: i just want to ask one more question before we go about hammond karzai. -- ham i had karzai. is he ready to take over? this is that the afghan troops will stand up when we stand down. >> this is not about hamid karzai. it's the other big election
year 2014 and the afghan army which is the institution that's going to take over. >> no clear contenders there, either. and on the afghan national security forces, i've seen a big change there. and i actually think they are significantly improved but they got a long way to go. gwen: thank you. well, every republican running for office is trying to sell him or herself as the best alternative to president obama. add to that list this week a candidate who until recently actually worked for president obama. >> for the first time in history, we are passing down to the next generation a country that is less powerful, less compassionate, less competitive, and less confident than the one we got. this, ladies and gentlemen, is totally unacceptable and it is totally un-american. gwen: that was jon huntsman who is attempting to stake out new ground. not least of which on afghanistan. as we've been talking about. what's he doing with that?
>> on afghanistan, he is in many ways to the left of president obama. calling for a drawdown that's much faster and a smaller footprint there. he has tossed out numbers of 15,000 troops and has really focused on this whome idea of having -- this whole idea of having a counterterrorism rather than a counterinsurgency. and he's also linking this effort to budget and spending. in the way that obama did when -- in 2008 when he was running and running against the iraq war. and fiscalizing that. that's essentially what he's doing there. and on his right, he's got romney, he's got pawlenty who's -- who are very much calling for a presence there and criticizing obama for setting these time lines. gwen:ness a real split among -- this is a real split among republicans about what to do with afghanistan. >> there is a split with these g.o.p. candidates. and again, huntsman on the left. and i think there are these internal deliberations going on now. not only with the g.o.p. candidates but also within the party more generally. a shift from what is really the republican orthodoxy, real
hawkish orthodoxy and we're seeing a shift now around afghanistan and libya. >> i thought the conventional wisdom is that to win the republican primary, you have to be a conservative. so what -- what's on the wall that shows his path to victory? >> i think he already is looking toward the general election. and democrats are nervous about him being able to appeal to moderates and to independents and to women. his path, he really is wanting to skip iowa. his aides say he'll skip iowa which is very conservative, lots of evangelicals there and wants to focus on new hampshire. he thinks the republicans, democrats, and independents can vote in that primary. he feels like he can come in strong in new hampshire. play well in south carolina. and he's also betting big on florida. he's got a campaign office there. and he's thinking that that is where it's going to be determined. gwen: that's where his wife is from, right? >> exactly. orlando. >> the second mormon in the race. how does that play or is that even an issue anymore? >> it's funny. in some ways, you imagine maybe two mormons in a race has this
mainstreaming effect with mormons. polls show that i think it's only like one in five people say that they would not vote for a mormon. and this is a statistic that's unchanged since 1967. gwen: what do both of them do about that? >> so of course we saw romney in 2007 give his j.f.k. speech and really address his faith. he was pretty much panned for that when he gave that. it was in the run-up to iowa. he was creamed in iowa of course. and i think what they're doing so far is not really talking about it. huntsman has been asked about it. he doesn't really talk about it. he has for instance said he is a mormon background. not necessarily a mormon faith. that has angered some mormons. especially in utah. but so far, i think two or three years ago we were asking whether or not the country was ready for a black president. of course -- >> nia, you used the word he's clearly left in relationship to the rest of the field. how conservative and how moderate is jon huntsman and how does this shake up the rest
of it with huntsman to his left, does this make the world safe for mitt romney? >> well, that's the thing. they are running in the same lane in some ways. but of course jon huntsman fancies himself as being the guy on the dirt bike. going to the desert. but that's -- that's the question. gwen: that was the video he released over days, a guy on a dirt bike riding nowhere apparently. and they said here he comes. and at the end it wasn't even huntsman on the dirt bike. >> it wasn't him. >> but a prop. >> i am not mitt romney. >> his campaign fancies him as the cooler version of mitt romney. you see him on his dirt bike and likes to eat fast food and a tough dude. gwen: tough to be cooler than mitt romney. looking at this field right now, the way it's shaping up, who are the democrats worried about? >> i think the democrats are obviously worried about huntsman. they are still in the middle of doing opposition research on this guy. because he's new to the field.
and i think they are more worried about romney than they say they are. because he's a strong frontrunner at this point. he's been able to raise a lot of money. he raised $10 million. last month in a single day and we'll see numbers from his campaign and how much he's been able it raise over the next couple of days. >> what does he do about the tv commercials that say he's obama's guy? he was obama's guy? gwen: like a minute ago. >> just a minute ago. >> the thing that he's doing with the china, the china relationship is essentially saying my president called me to serve and i served. i was serving my country and i wasn't serving the president. >> an ambassador. >> an ambassador and i speak mandarin and another chinese dialect. so it seemed to be in new hampshire, it seems to be playing well for him. but again, i think the president is very much going to hug him to death with that relationship. gwen: and already started to become a running joke. nia, welcome to "washington week." >> good to be here. gwen: finally tonight the supreme court, days away from the end of its session.
shut down the largest class action suit in history. against the nation's biggest praoist employer. -- private employer. does that mean that class action lawsuits are over or wal-mart is not guilty of the discrimination it was accused of? >> no to both. this lawsuit was not about whether wal-mart actually discriminated. it was whether this case could go to trial. and what the supreme court said is -- i think both sides would agree that class action lawsuits like this will be harder to bring. although the two sides will differ on whether that's such a good thing or not. what the supreme court said is that it wasn't the size of this class action that doomed it. a million and a half women, every woman who has ever worked at wal-mart since 1998 basically, what the majority said is they could not all trace their claim of discrimination to some common factor. they couldn't say there was a single wal-mart policy that cause them to be discriminated against in pay and promotions. what the women said is oh, yes, there is. wal-mart delegates all these decisions to local managers and that allows they said a culture
of gender bias to creep in. and they cited 120 specific cases of discrimination. they had surveys that said this could be a problem for wal-mart. but the supreme court said that's basically not good enough. so what this ruling means is that anybody who wants to use this kind of approach, a few specific, some surveys, take them and make a big general case, will find that much harder to bring. but other kinds of class actions are probably still ok. gwen: women's groups and sism rights groups had -- civil rights groups had high hopes for this case and pretty much depressed by the outcome. what do they do with that? >> as for the individual women suing wal-mart, they basically have a couple of choices. many of them will pursue their own lawsuits against wal-mart. some of them will still band together in class actions. you could easily do a class action, for example, of all the women who had worked at some single store where you had some single manager that was making the decisions. or maybe you could even group them together, stores in a small geographic area.
so there can still be class actions. but this big 1.5 million class action is clearly dead. >> so does that mean that this wasn't broadly applicable or it was? was this case an outright or -- among class action lawsuits and are still lots of class actions that will be able to chug forward the way they always did? >> the kind of class action lawsuits that are indisturbed by these decisions is where you have a defective laptop battery that scaleds people or a lawnmower that some part goes flinging off. everybody has a common claim there. and that's easy to make. and a drug is many properly labeled. or a company has a bad policy. those lawsuits can go forward. but there was a sort of growing trend to use these cases where you have surveys and a small number of anecdotes that you spin into a large number of class. and those are going to be much harder to bring now. you got to have something more specific. you got to show a cause and effect. gwen: pete, one of the -- >> pete, one of the things i read is because you have a
majority male justices, she said they just don't understand the implications in a case like that. >> if you -- fair criticism? >> 5-4. all the women were in the minority here. but i don't know that it's -- it's the women-men. because if you look at two of the three women, ruth bader ginsburg has been there since the clinton administration. but if you look at the two most recent women arrivals on the court, elena kagan and sonya sotomayor, they replaced john paul stephens and david souter, would have been in the minority. so the women didn't make a difference. >> the 5-4 the women are almost always voting together on the 5-4 decisions in the court. >> a lot of the decisions this year have once again broken on those ideological lines. and the women are in what we call the more liberal wing of the supreme court. gwen: all right. what are the -- >> all right. what are the other cases left on the docket for the supreme court? >> monday will be the last day. gwen: he started his countdown now.
>> the little digital clock is running. the two most interesting that are left are first of all for the purposes of this program, a political funding case from arizona. and this is a case that said if you're a publicly funded candidate, you don't take any private contributions or take the state's money you get a certain amount of dough. if your praoistly funded opponent spends more than that the state bumps you up to match that. and the allegation is that by people who oppose that, that violates their free expression, what they claim is well, we keep our spending down because we don't want the trigger that bump up for our opponents and that limits our advertising which of course the court has equated with speech. the second case that i think will be closely watched is a case from california where the state has banned the sale of violent video games to minors. and this really calls upon the supreme court to decide whether or not to carve out another exception and say ok, we've already said that you can't sell sexually explicit material to minors. now we're going to say you can't sell violent material to
minors. and how do you define violence? it's easy to define sexually explicit materials. it shows certain things. but how do you define violence? a much more difficult thing. so that will be closely watched as well. gwen: one final question on the wal-mart case. wal-mart argued that they actually have improved their behavior over the years. when it comes to promotion for women. is that so? and does -- and sometimes, isn't the bringing of these cases enough to change behavior and improve it? >> i don't think there's any question that it's made a huge difference. wal-mart admits that itself. and that's one of the things that the women who brought this lawsuit say they should get in their credit. is that they did force wal-mart to make changes. and of course you have to think about why you file class actions in the first place. these women were going for back pay and very small amount and hard to get a lawyer to take a case for that kind of money. gwen: thank you, pete, and thanks, everybody else. we're done here for right now but the conversation will continue online. on the "washington week" webcast extra. for more on libya, politics and the debt ceiling dance, oh, yes, you thought we forgot about that. for daily developments on these
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